I've fixed my favorite pajama pants several times, but now they’re really beyond repair. So I’m going to copy them and make a new pair with the same fit. Pajama pants are a great sewing project for all kinds of skill levels. With only a few pieces and no really complicated shapes, there’s not much that can go wrong.
Let me show you how I made mine. You can watch the video or read the steps here, whatever you prefer.
I’m using a nice cotton fabric. It's a good idea to pop your fabric in the wash first to get any
shrinking out of the way before you start sewing.
What you'll need:
- Your favorite pajama pants
- 2 meters/yards of fabric
- Matching thread
- Pattern paper
- 35 mm wide elastic (1,5 inch)
- 2 meters of drawstring/ribbon - Sewing machine
- Scissors, fabric scissors and pinking shears
- Optional: 0,25 meters/yards of stretchy fabric for the waistband (or use the same fabric as for the pants)
Step 1: Make the Pattern & Cut Fabric
For the pattern, you have to copy two pieces: the front of the leg and the back. To do this, place the pants on some pattern paper and trace the pieces all the way around, following the seams. Then add 1,5 cm (3/4 inch) of seam allowance on all the sides.
These pants don’t have the side seam at the actual side, but a bit more to the front. So I take that into account when I’m tracing the back of the leg.
Add an extra 1,5 cm (3/4 inch) seam allowance at the bottom of the legs so that you can make a double seam.
The one thing my old pants were missing was pockets. So I’m adding some simple pockets to the new pattern.
Time to cut the fabric. Lay out the pattern pieces on folded fabric and pin them in place. This way you’ll automatically get a left and a right version of each pattern piece when I cut through both layers of fabric. If you're using a woven (non stretchy) fabric, cut the pieces out with pinking shears to prevent them from fraying.
Step 2: Attach the Pockets
Prepare the pocket opening by cutting notches around the curve and folding the raw edge over twice. The notches help the fabric go around the curve. Stitch it down.
Do the same to the outer curve, again cutting notches and folding the edge over twice. Then place the pockets on the front leg pieces and transfer the pins to include the new layer of fabric. Stitch the pockets in place on the leg pieces.
Step 3: Inner Leg: Flat Fell Seam
Now you can assemble the legs. For the inner seam, I recommend using a flat fell seam, which you may recognize from the inner seams of your jeans. This is a very strong seam that hides all the raw edges and looks good on both the inside and the outside. But of course you can also use any other type of seam that you like.
The steps for making a flat fell seam are:
1. Pin the pieces WRONG sides together
2. Sew a straight stitch 1,5 cm (3/4 inch) from the edge
3. Cut down one of the seam allowances to 1/3 of its original length, so to 0,5 cm (1/4 inch)
4. Fold the fabric open and fold the longer seam allowance around the shorter seam allowance. Pin it in place
5. Sew a second line of stitching close to the fold
Step 4: Outer Leg: French Seam
For the outer seam, it's not possible to use the flat fell seam again, because that requires you to fold the fabric open. Instead, I recommend using what’s in Dutch called an English seam, and in English is called a French seam. This is similar to a flat fell seam in that it hides all the raw edges. Of course you can again feel free to use a different type of seam if you like.
The steps for making a French seam are:
1. Pin the pieces WRONG sides together
2. Sew a straight stitch 0,5 cm (1/4 inch) from the edge
3. Fold the fabric RIGHT sides together, press the seam flat and pin the fabric together again
4. Sew a second line of stitching 1 cm (1/2 inch) from the side, encasing the raw edges within the new seam
Step 5: Stitch the Legs Together
Now that the two legs are done, you can stitch them together at the crotch. The easiest way to do this is to place one leg inside the other. For the crotch seam I’m using a flat fell seam again, so I'm putting the legs wrong sides together. If you're using a regular seam, you put them right sides together.
Match up the center seam and pin the two legs together. Then sew them in place.
Step 6: Add the Waistband
To make the waistband, measure the circumference of the pants and the circumference of your waist. If you’re using a non-stretchy fabric for the waistband, your piece should be the circumference of your pants + 3 cm (1,5 inch) long and 10 cm (4 inch) wide. I’m using a stretchy fabric, so I’m cutting a piece that is the length of my waist + 3 cm (1,5 inch) of seam allowance long, and again 10 cm (4 inch) wide.
I’m starting by adding two buttonholes to my waistband for the drawstring to come through. My machine has an automatic buttonhole function, so that’s easy. If you can’t make buttonholes, by machine or by hand, you can easily leave the drawstring out, since it’s mostly decorative.
Fold the waistband in half, right sides together, and stitch the ends together with a 1,5 cm (3/4 inch) seam allowance. Then fold it over length-wise and place it around the top of the pants, right sides together. Stitch it in place, again with 1,5 cm (3/4 inch) of seam allowance, but leave a gap on one of the sides to thread the elastic through. If your waistband is stretchy, make sure to stretch it to the circumference of the waist as you sew.
Cut a piece of elastic that’s slightly shorter than your waist measurement and put a safety pin in one of the ends. Thread it through the waistband. Make sure the elastic isn’t twisted anywhere and then sew the two ends together, turning it into one continuous loop. Now you can stitch the final gap of the waistband closed. To keep the elastic from twisting, sew a bit of it in place on both of the side seams. But don’t stitch all the way up the waistband, because the drawstring will need to go through the same tunnel.
Put a safety pin in one end of the drawstring and thread it through the buttonhole and all the way around the waistband, coming out the other buttonhole.
Step 7: Hem the Legs
Finally, you'll need to hem the legs. Mark the same length on both of the legs and then fold the edge over twice and pin it in place. Sew all the way around, and that finishes the pajama pants.
My new pajama pants fit me just as well as the old ones, so I’m very happy!